Why Chase needs a competitor to the Amex Gold


Chase and American Express are two of the most popular card issuers. Since they offer similar products, their cards are often compared.

The American Express® Green Card competes with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, while The Platinum Card® from American Express has a notable rivalry with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

But what about the American Express® Gold Card? American Express’s mid-tier lifestyle card has no direct competitor from Chase, which I see as a missed opportunity. So, here’s what Chase should do to create a formidable opponent to the Amex Gold.

The information for the American Express Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

What’s a lifestyle credit card?

This term isn’t official, but I chose to use it because, from my perspective, it best represents what cards like the Amex Gold are about.

Dining and buying groceries are two meaningful parts of people’s daily lives. The restaurants a person visits and what they purchase at the grocery store are a big part of their lifestyle. So, cards offering bonus points on these purchases and statement credits at dining establishments and supermarkets target consumers who spend big in these areas.

With that established, we can dig a little deeper into why Chase needs an Amex Gold competitor.

Why should Chase launch a competitor to the Amex Gold?

The choice to create a mid-tier lifestyle card goes beyond creating two competing trios of cards. The Amex Gold has received criticism for its high $250 annual fee (see rates and fees) and “coupon book” credits. Consumers want reasonable annual fees for what a card offers, and they don’t want benefits that are a hassle to use.

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By listening to the woes of those dissatisfied with the Amex Gold, Chase can seize a sizable portion of its audience. Competition in the credit card market is good; it encourages innovation and discourages consumer-unfriendly practices.

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If Chase can offer a great answer to the Amex Gold, it might encourage American Express to take a more competitive approach to future refreshes of the Amex Gold.

Chase lifestyle card annual fee and benefits

What could a Chase mid-tier lifestyle card look like? Since Chase’s competitors to the Amex Green and Amex Platinum offer lower annual fees, it should continue that trend with this hypothetical card. The Amex Gold has an annual fee of $250, so a Chase competitor should target an annual fee between $150 and $195.

In terms of benefits, Chase would need to approach this very strategically. According to Reddit, one of the most common criticisms of the Amex Gold is the way it issues its monthly dining statement credit. This statement credit is limited to a handful of brands, including Grubhub, Shake Shack and The Cheesecake Factory. Reddit users also report frustration with the credit being limited to $10 per month (up to $120 per calendar year). Enrollment is required; terms apply.

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Considering that, Chase should include up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for dining purchases. This credit should include dining at restaurants and takeout and delivery services. Keep it simple; don’t include any brand restrictions or limitations on how much can be credited each month. As with the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve, a complimentary DashPass subscription should be included, too.

Online forum users have long lamented Chase’s lack of a consumer credit card for gas purchases. If Chase offered a statement credit for gas on this card, it would set it apart from virtually any other available consumer gas card. This card could offer up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for purchases at gas stations. As with the dining credit, there should be no brand restrictions or other gimmicks.

Based on the $150 to $195 annual fee I envisioned for this card, offering up to $200 in statement credits each year would allow cardholders to get a lot of value out of this card.

And, as a final benefit, the card could offer a complimentary Lyft Pink membership for six months, which includes priority pickups and free cancellations.

Related: Is the Amex Gold worth the annual fee?

Earning points on a Chase lifestyle card

When I think about purchases that define the average American’s daily life, three categories immediately come to mind: gas, groceries and dining. Given that the Amex Gold offers bonus Membership Rewards points for groceries and dining, covering those three categories would put a Chase lifestyle card in a competitive spot.

At the very least, Chase should match the Amex Gold’s earnings on groceries at U.S. supermarkets and dining at restaurants. That means this lifestyle card needs to earn cardholders at least 4 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on dining at restaurants and groceries at U.S. Supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar yeat). If it went this route, this card could earn 4 points per dollar spent on gas to keep the categories consistent.

Given that TPG values Chase points at 2.05 cents per point (as of July 2024), that would be an effective return of over 8% on groceries, dining and gas.

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Another option could be to give cardholders the choice to earn 6 points per dollar spent on either gas, groceries or dining each quarter. Cards like the Chase Freedom Flex® offer rotating quarterly categories, but cardholders don’t have a say in which category they’ll earn bonus points each quarter. Giving cardholders the flexibility to choose what they earn bonus points on would make this product an enticing option.

Cardholders could maximize their earnings across gas, groceries and dining without switching between cards. For the two categories that aren’t selected for the elevated rate of 6 points per dollar each quarter, the card would earn 4 points per dollar. So, for example, if you chose to earn 6 points per dollar spent on gas for this quarter, you’d earn 4 points per dollar spent on dining and groceries.

In both earning models, Lyft purchases would net 3 points per dollar and all other purchases would earn 1 point per dollar.

Related: The best rewards credit cards for each bonus category

How would this card fit with the Sapphire family?

This hypothetical card would fit right between the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve. The Sapphire Preferred earns points on online groceries, while both the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve earn points on dining. By introducing this theoretical lifestyle card, the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve could drop their grocery and dining categories and focus more on travel.

It would make sense, then, for cardholders to hold both this card and either the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve. To help highlight this pairing, this card should be granted a “Sapphire” moniker as well.

That said, it shouldn’t be subject to the same application restrictions as the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve. Cardholders would need to be able to hold this card and one of the other Sapphire cards together, and earning a bonus on one shouldn’t lock someone out from earning a bonus on the other.

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Comparing the pairing of this card and the Sapphire Reserve against the Amex Gold and Amex Platinum shows a huge difference in overall cost for the consumer. Depending on how Chase priced this card, we’d be looking at a total cost of $700-$745 each year for this card and the Sapphire Reserve against $945 annually for the Amex Gold and Amex Platinum (see Amex Platinum rates and fees).

Related: The power of the Chase Trifecta

Bottom line

The time is right for Chase to release a competitor to the Amex Gold. A strategically designed mid-tier lifestyle card would generate a lot of buzz and applications for Chase. Chase has a golden opportunity here that it needs to take advantage of, and if it released a card like I’ve envisioned, I’d definitely apply for it.

Related: Who should (and who shouldn’t) get the Amex Gold?

For the rates and fees of the Amex Gold, click here.
For the rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.


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